`It will encourage people to stay ... and others to join'

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The Independent Online
SYLVIA DENTON, 57, is a breast cancer specialist nurse at a London teaching hospital. She has reached the top of the career ladder as an "I grade" nurse, earning about pounds 29,000 a year.

She said the plans announced yesterday were an excellent opportunity for nurses who were unable to go any further unless they moved into management.

"I want to remain in clinical nursing and these plans will really give opportunities to other senior nurses who have reached the top and have nowhere else to go.

"I also think it will bring more nurses into the profession because it gives them all something to aspire to.

"It gives more of a focus to patient care as well as giving nurses the opportunity to be in a leadership role in the clinical side.

"It will certainly encourage nurses to stay in the profession and also motivate others to join because they will have a career path to follow." Ms Denton said she had been frustrated that the grading system had meant senior nurses became stuck at a certain point and hoped that the new plans would end that.

Gail Adams, 33, is a theatre practitioner, at St George's Hospital in Tooting, south London. She is currently a "G grade" and earns about pounds 23,000 a year. She welcomed the plans for creating consultant nurses but was concerned over exactly how they would be implemented.

"It is a great opportunity for nurses to become more independent and be able to prescribe as well as administer drugs and give them a chance of total care.

"My only worry is that there needs to be a clear pathway to reach this point for all G grade nurses and upwards. I am afraid that it may be only for an elite few rather than a career route for all nurses to follow.

"As long as there are provisions for nurses to carry on working while they study, so they can bring their experience on the wards to the courses they are doing, then I welcome it. If they have to stop work for a while to go on a course then it may not work because they could lose out financially.

"The standard for consultant nurses also needs to be consistent throughout the country and not dependent on which hospital you work at."

Sarrita Samuda, 23, is a healthcare assistant at St Ann's Hospital in Tottenham, north London. She is rated "A grade", at the very bottom of the ladder of nursing, and earns less than pounds 15,000 a year.

She would like to train as a nurse but cannot afford to give up her salary and go to college for three years.

"I would just like to be a nurse, never mind a `super nurse', but as far as I can see this new plan just benefits the senior nurses and does not help the junior ones or people in my position, so I can't see that it will encourage more people to go into nursing.

"We need a system of vocational training so that healthcare assistants can train on the wards and not have to give up work to go off and study.

"At the moment I am sticking it out and hoping to find a way round it so I can train but it is getting harder every day. I know one woman who has been a healthcare assistant for 20 years and has never been able to train.

"If I could just manage to be a nurse then there would be no stopping me but I can't even think about that at the moment because it seems so far away. It is very frustrating because I'm just doing a job, not a career, and I want to have a career."